Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ball State University Libraries Digitize Correspondence of Prominent Anthropologist Clark Wissler


Clark David Wissler

The Ball State University Libraries has digitized the correspondence of influential American anthropologist Clark Wissler (1870-1947). The Clark Wissler Collection features over 6,000 letters between Wissler and prominent American and British anthropologists, psychologists, paleontologists, museum curators, publishers, and members of his family from 1906 to 1947. Notable correspondents include Yale University psychologist Robert Means Yerkes; Director of the American Association of Museums, Laurence Vail Coleman; American sociologist Robert S. Lynd; and British anthropologist Beatrice Blackwood.

A native of Cambridge City in Wayne County, Indiana, Clark Wissler served as the curator of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1907-1942 and was a professor at Yale University from 1924-1940. While at the American Museum of Natural History, Wissler conducted fieldwork and directed numerous projects within the fields of ethnology, physical anthropology, and archaeology, most of which concerned the cultures of North American Indian tribes. Wissler published eleven monographs based on his fieldwork and also wrote the foreword to the seminal 1929 sociological case study by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture, in which he described the Lynds' study as a “pioneer attempt to deal with a sample American community after the manner of social anthropology.”

Letter from Clark Wissler and Robert S. Lynd, March 22, 1928
The correspondence that composes the digital collection was selected from a larger manuscript collection (Clark Wissler Papers, 1897-1979) held by Archives and Special Collections that also includes Wissler’s research and lecture notes, projects files, manuscripts, and publications. The digital collection is accessible online in the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository.

For more information about this collection, contact Ball State University Archives and Special Collections at libarchives@bsu.edu or (765) 285-5078.

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